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message 1: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Oxford Anthology of the Brazilian Short Story /K. David Jackson starts with a fine Introduction to the enormous output of Brazilian Portuguese literature and to the development of the Brazilian Short Story from baroque to modern (from 1922). Characteristics of the BSS: regionalism; immigration and urbanization; modernism (social issues, artistic awareness); mythic imagination.

message 2: by Kendall (new)

Kendall (KendallFurlong) It's about time Brazilian short stories received this kind of recognition. As a graduate student, longer ago than I care to remember, I discovered the genre in a survey of Brazilian Literature course. The text, Contos Brasileiras was in Portuguese with a translation dictionary in the back for American students. It warms my heart to see some of these wonderful stories available to a broader audience.

message 3: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments The point you make, Kendall, "these wonderful stories available to a broader audience", is exactly why K. David Jackson's anthology is so necessary. These Brazilian short stories, translated, were published piecemeal here and there, now and then. Beginning the turn of the twentieth century and ending in contemporary time, these anthologized stories represent a small portion of all Brazilian Portuguese short stories. Take for example, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis--"...without equal in the whole of Latin American literature." Machado wrote seven published books of short stories, of which four books have been translated. Ten stories of his appear here.

message 4: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments I won't summarize the topic "Major Themes", but there are about eleven of them and their representative authors and stories, the whole anthology covering one hundred twenty-five years.

Interesting to note that the European Belle Époque traveled to Rio de Janeiro, remaking the colonial city to resemble a more modern European one.

Machado de Assis' "Wedding Song" is the first story.

message 5: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments After "Wedding Song", there are more short stories by Machado.

In "The Siamese Academies", King Kalaphangko and Kinnara, "flower of the concubines", temporarily exchange bodies, hence social roles, so that the king's feminine soul will be in a feminine body and the concubine's masculine soul will be in a masculine body.

"The Fortune-Teller" is a cautionary story about a couple's succumbing to superstitious beliefs, such as card-reading. Rather, "ask your heart". An intertextual reference to Hamlet's
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in our philosophy."
alludes to a quote in the next story, "The truth unknown to man is the madness of him who proclaims it." Guesses about the unknown present, or future, are what anyone makes.

"Life", set between the end of time and the beginning of eternity, is a conversation between the biblical, wandering Ahasverus who gave too little compassion to Christ and the immortal, bound Prometheus who gave too much compassion to Humankind.

message 6: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Still more of Machado de Assis's stories are

"The Nurse"
A theologian Procópio José Gomes Valongo becomes the nurse of Col Felisberto, who goes through nurses like tissues. After the first week, the ailing Col is up to his nasty habits of grouchiness, rage, and throwing things, which have gotten him a reputation among the townsfolk. Persuaded to stay longer, Procópio finally lashes back after a flying object causes a contusion on the side of his face. In the ensuing struggle, the Col is strangled, or was his death coincidental with his illness? As the nurse, Procópio is able to prevent people from noticing the marks left on the Col's neck... Have you guessed the ending? Has shades of Poe a little bit.

"The Secret Heart"
García, Fortunato, and Maria Luiza form a threesome, especially when the men open a hospital. García experiences pleasure in the sufferings of living beings; while Fortunato experiences a secret passion for Maria, García's wife.

"A Woman's Arms"
Another Shakepeare reference, "sleep, perchance dream!" in this short story about an apprentice's discreet love for his master's wife.

"Dona Paula"
The aunt vicariously relives the emotion and romance of extramarital romance, the "leaves of yesteryear", through the excited feelings of her married niece, who talks about her response to an ardent admirer.

"Father versus Mother"
A family man, who supports his family through slave-catching, finds that business becoming competitive so that he's falling behind in paying for rent and food. Will the newborn be abandoned at the foundling home?

"Wallow, Swine"
The narrator questions the fairness of a jury trial.

message 7: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Nov 17, 2011 02:45PM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Stories by José Veríssimo, Emília Moncorva Bandeira de Mello (Carmen Dolores), and Paulo Barreto (João do Rio)

José Veríssimo :
"Going After Rubber" and "Returning from Rubber Gathering"
In a paradisiacal setting, a beautiful, healthy family, who prosper by cocoa, is enticed by a stranger, a trader, to leave their well-maintained house and environs to earn a fortune in rubber gathering and to buy on credit the equipment from him. Though the reader might figure out that the trader will cheat them if not do more, the story is interesting for what is says about human beings.

Carmen Dolores :
"Aunt Zézé's Tears" --spoiler!
An aging spinster, selflessly devoting herself to her sister's family, longs to express emotions and tenderness. On her anniversary day, a poet is gratified by her sobbing outburst at the end of his poem to honor her.

Paulo Barreto :
"The Baby in Rose Tarlaton"
In the first sentence, the author says that this is a story about masks, Carnival, and expectation of adventure. The narrator Heitor de Alencar captures the raucous flavor during Rio's Carnival to his listeners--Maria da Flor, Anatólio de Azambuja, and Baron Belfort. Enticed by a masked girl at a sleazy dance club, Heitor pursues her until the surprising, final scene.
"An Epidsode in a Hotel"
A detective story that will mislead the reader until the last sentence.

message 8: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Nov 12, 2011 08:17PM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments What is the purpose of an anthology of short stories but to read them here and there or part by part? After reading from 'The Tropical Belle Époque' (1880s-1920s), why not try some 'Contemporary Visions' post 1980, specifically Nélida Piñon 's "Big-Bellied Cow" and "Brief Flower"? One of her novels is The Republic Of Dreams. Her heritage is Galician.

The cow story shows how a man loves his cow--how he purchases, breeds, and finally ceremoniously buries Dapple as if she is a human being and how age, security, and solitude solidify their bond.

Piñon depicts another love bond when she writes the flower story--a mother and a son who leave home and enter a convent of nuns, generally adapting their customs of too little love and of too few compliments while sustaining their loving mother and son relationship. A phrase here is " must be a religious woman since you've always dreamed of stars"--interesting anyway for connecting the earthly and celestial.

message 9: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Nov 17, 2011 11:46AM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Lygia Fagundes Telles "Just a Saxophone"
Opening analogy: "I learned from him [Xenophon] that four-letter words in the mouth of a woman are like a slug in the heart of a rose."
An older, rich woman relives her past and her many boyfriends, yearning for a tenor saxophonist of her youth: "I want to make it very clear that to me the only thing that exists is youth, everything else if poppycock, tinsel, glass beads...only youth is real."

Murilo Rubião 1916-1981 "Zacarias, the Pyrotechnist"
A fantasy in which the corpse of a car accident, Simplício de Alvarenga, goes out celebrating with the people who hit him.

J. J. Veiga Gomes 1915-99 "The Misplaced Machine"
A town receives a large machine which becomes the focal point of civic activities.

Moacyr Scliar b. 1937 "The Cow"
A shipwrecked sailor survives because a cow Carola provides necessities.

..."The Last Poor Man"
A utopia where all disease, poverty, and final death are eliminated; but the discovery of a solitary, unkempt pauper creates overwhelming interest and civic responsibility.

message 10: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Nov 16, 2011 06:13PM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Autran Dourado b. 1926 "Bald Island"
The striking opening features are that Dourado builds up psychological suspense by turning over Dorotheia's feelings and thoughts and that he describes a nice setting of a sea/ocean-surrounded island, of nature and of characters. Dorotheia, a lesbian, examines the unfeminine side of her character and her melancholy concerning her girlfriend Marcia, a bisexual. Her father's warmth and closeness and her mother's indifference and coldness are compared. The reader learns the past while Dorotheia is mulling over the present.

Origenes Lessa 1903-1986 "Marta: A Souvenir of New York"
The author recalls his delightful visits to a New York City Mexican restaurant where the musically voiced Marta waitresses.

Rubem Fonseca b1925 "Large Intestine"
An author and interviewer's bookish conversation covers several psychological themes--marginal members of society; the humiliations of a baroness becoming a duchess; a forgiving Hansel and Gretel; and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (constantly shouting obscenities and displaying a muscular tic). Several worthy quotes, besides:
"Do you read every day? How much? At what speed?"
"I read at least one book a day. My speed today is one hundred pages an hour. But I used to read faster."

"...what counts is not reality, but truth, and truth is that in which you believe."

"...what perturbs and alarms man are not the things themselves but his opinions and fantasies about them."

"...inhibitions without the possibility of release can cause serious damage to the individual's health. A wise organization should prevent the repressions of these communication channels that provide vicarious relief and the reduction of tension. The alternatives to pornography are mental illness, violence, the Bomb. There should be a National Curse Day.
Thank goodness there's Goodreads.

message 11: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Nov 16, 2011 06:15PM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Carlos Heitor Cony b. 1926 "Order of the Day"
A satire of how excessive administrative order creates social chaos.

Samuel Rawet 1929-1984 "The Prophet"
So far, Rubem Fonseca's literary conversation and Samuel Rawet's "The Prophet" are among this amazing anthology's most intriguing stories. From Rawet's The Prophet and Other Stories, it describes an old man crossing the Atlantic to Brazil by steamship to visit for an extended time his brother and family. His memories of tragic European experiences and his language barrier make shared feelings between him and his Brazilian relations impossible, and the ironic, perfect ending has him departing via another steamship to find better company.
"He was simply going in search of the company of people who were the same, the same, Yes."
A character for whom European ties to family, society, and land are broken and Brazilian ones unable to be resumed.

Hilda Hilst 1930-2004, a literary modernist, says this anthology--"interior monologue", "fragmentation of syntax", "open forms that collapse time and theme into the narrative moment".
"Agda": A finely written story playing up the number three in all sorts of ways, but it's vague as to who exactly are the characters and what are their connections.

message 12: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Victor Giudice 1934-1997 "The File Cabinet"
An upside down working environment where João's job skills (making an effort, not missing work, not arriving late, thanking the boss, working longer hours, and arriving thirty minutes early) are joyously rewarded by enviable pay cuts and demotions until his person literally becomes a file cabinet.

Edla Van Steen b. 1936 "Carol head Lina heart"
Published in A Bag of Stories (Discoveries), its form is side-by-side columns, one pertaining to Tomás, the other to Carolina. The weather, what goes on in each character's mind, a telephone connection, and what their relationship is if any is refreshing to read:
"...the first streetlights go on--the electric company's fireflies..."

"...learning to give and take what love is all about..."

"Threads of rain look like falling stars disintegrating on the pavement."

Caio Fernando Abreu 1948-1996 "Dragons.."
A very dense story, coming after Van Steen's double-columned narrative, from Abreu's Os Dragões Não Conhecem O Paraíso [trans. edition: Dragons...]. The main character, an old man, finds the child inside himself with the help of a visiting, fleeting, diaphanous dragon to learn what is true or not true:
"...between seven and nine in the morning...that's the time for dragons...they always thrash their tails three times, as if they were in a rage, breathing fire through their nostrils and incinerating anything within a radius of over five meters...Today I wonder; perhaps that's their clumsy way of saying, as I tend to say these days, when they wake up--let it be sweet."

"Anyone who only believes in what is visible has a very small world. There isn't room for dragons in those small worlds with walls that are inaccessible to what is not visible."

Milton Hatoum b. 1952 "The Truth is a Seven-Headed Animal"
Hatoum is the author of the novel The Brothers. This story is from another Portuguese work and was translated in Grand Street 64: Memory. Takes place in Manaus's Opera House, Teatro Amazonas [photo: + article's links], whose interior design very much resembles Milan's La Scala opera house and whose paintings are part of the story. A birth happens inside the theatre during the drenching December rainy season, an event whose noises--an opera singer? a thunderbolt?--awaken a very old man asleep in the attic, reviving his memories.

message 13: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments The next several short stories and authors will be from Part III, a section entitled 'Modernism at Mid-Century (1945-1980)', represented by Clarice Lispector, Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Osman Lins, Dalton Trevisan, Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes, and Carlos Drummond de Andrade.

Clarice Lispector 1920-1977
From these stories and her novel The Hour of the Star it is clear that her good writing has chilling themes which portray the futility of escaping one's fate and the practicality of adapting to it. The editor's introduction to her stories says:
Her main characters are women trapped in a cruel existence without motivation, or confined in a monotonous and irrational subjectivity. Her theme is their search for a desperate or different form of liberation, never social but rather redemptive and transcendental.
So, reading Lispector's story "The Buffalo" I felt troubled and apprehensive as the main character makes an ordinary visit to a zoological park but her emotional state is anything but carefree and whether she is sometimes actually walking through the animal cages is perplexing. In "The Chicken", a fleeing chicken, destined for dinner, staves off its destiny by many years by surprisingly laying an egg.

Speaking of food, there is a descriptive paragraph appropriate for a vegan's Thanksgiving Day in "The Breaking of the Bread":
The table had been covered with a solemn abundance. On the white tablecloth were piled ears of wheat. And red apples; and large, yellow carrots; round tomatoes with skins that almost crackled; chayotes of a delicate green; pineapples malignant in their savagery; placid, flame-colored oranges; gherkins bristling like porcupines, implacable cucumbers which walled in their own aqueous flesh; hollow, reddish peppers which stung the eyes--everything was intertwined with masses and masses of the moist beard of the ears of corn, a beard red like one surrounding a mouth. And the grapes--grapes so black that they looked purple, and which could hardly wait for the moment when they would be crushed. And it didn't matter to them by whom. The tomatoes were round for no one in particular--for the air, the round air.
This Saturday meal is accompanied by the diners' growing appreciation as they eat it.

There are several other Lispector stories here. One of the finest is "Beauty and the Beast, or, The Wound Too Great", in which a beautiful society woman of Rio de Janiero, left idle for an hour, muses about her banker husband, herself, and her human connection to a wounded street beggar.

message 14: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 8 comments Advice, please! Has anyone seen MACUNAÍMA? Is it worth seeing? Has anyone read Mario de Andrade's novel on which it is (loosely, it seems) based?

As part of its cultural program, the Brazilian Embassy in Accra organizes the screening of Brazilian movies on the fourth Saturday of every month at Brazil House, at 3 p.m., from 27th November 2010. The schedule is as follows:

27th November 2010: MACUNAÍMA

message 15: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 2764 comments Manu wrote: "Advice, please! Has anyone seen MACUNAÍMA? Is it worth seeing? Has anyone read Mario de Andrade's novel on which it is (loosely, it seems) based?

As part of its cultural program, the Brazilian Em..."

Macunaíma is a cornerstone of Brazilian literary history, written by Mário de Andrade. The story line, the time frame, and the setting of the film and the novel greatly differ.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Oxford Anthology of the Brazilian Short Story (other topics)
Lendas Brasileiras: Colecao de 27 Contos Para Criancas (other topics)
Republic Of Dreams, The (other topics)
The Prophet and Other Stories (other topics)
The Brothers (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

K. David Jackson (other topics)
Nélida Piñon (other topics)
Lygia Fagundes Telles (other topics)
Samuel Rawet (other topics)
Carlos Heitor Cony (other topics)